Title: Forest of Firelight
Author: Shari L. Tapscott
Pub. Date: May 29, 2020
After the sudden death of her brother, Princess Amalia is charged with what feels like an impossible task—she must choose the next king. Youthful thoughts of love are pushed aside as she accepts her fate, setting upon a quest throughout the kingdom to find a man worthy of her father’s throne.
Little does Amalia know, someone has already set his sights on her.
Rhys is a man of secrets, and his mission is simple: befriend the princess of Renove. Coax her to trust him, convince her to follow him.
Betray her when it’s time.
All goes according to plan until Rhys meets the princess. Amalia is a disaster. Never has he met someone so drawn to trouble. Never has he met someone so irritatingly likable.
He’s not allowed to fall for her.
She could never entrust him with a crown.
But, unbeknownst to them, their unlikely partnership might be the key to saving their entire world from a darkness that’s slowly creeping from the wounded earth that separates one kingdom from the next.
This will be a spoiler free review.
I won’t lie – the deciding factor to buy a physical copy of this book came down to the fact that the male MC’s name is Rhys. The cover and the synopsis also factored in, but I’m rereading the ACOTAR series right now, so when I saw “Rhys” I was sunk. I’m not even ashamed to admit that.
I inhaled this book.
Finished it in 3 hours.
Didn’t put it down until I was done.
I need book two, but it doesn’t come out until August 28, so I have to wait. Luckily, it’s only a few days and I can read some other stuff until then. But I’m dying inside because I really want to know what happens next. Especially after how it ended, the things that were revealed. Like, hello plot twists that had me freaking the fuck out at like, whatever ungodly hour I stayed up reading until.
This book has it all – suddenly becoming the heir to a kingdom, loss, handsome strangers who are too attractive for their own good, pretend boyfriend/fake dating, dangerous attraction, mystery, secrets, magic and a brother who is probably my new fave side character.
If you’re a fan of Air Awakens, think, Baldair. Rhys is basically Aldrik. Which leads me to, if you’re a fan of ACOTAR, Air Awakens and Serpent & Dove (Amalia and Rhys have Lou and Reid energy), then you’re probably going to like this book.
Rhys has a secret, one he can’t divulge, and when he meets Amalia, his inexplicably drawn to her and infuriated by her. Amalia, who has longed for some kind of adventure her whole life, meets Rhys, and like any sheltered girl who comes across the most gorgeous man ever, goes into instant crush mode. Tbh, I can’t blame her, and once she got comfortable with him after just meeting him, she was bold as fuck.
Their entire relationship is a Fake Dating trope and I lived for it. It gave me so much joy and made this book so wholly enjoyable.
I also really loved that this book was dual POV. I’m always a fan of getting inside the male MC’s brain. Rhys is no exception. Reading about his inexplicable attraction to Amalia, his conflicting emotions and basically constant desire to be near her, even though “I can’t get attached” is pure gold.
I liked Rhys more – he felt a little more fleshed out and he has some serious internal conflicts compared to Amalia. I liked her character, but she is a tad useless – she can barely even brush her own hair and has zero life skills. Yes, she a princess and has lived a sheltered life, I’ll give her that. But I think her arc is going to progress more in the second book, and despite being so sheltered, she doesn’t seem too brothered about having and trying new experiences. She’s pretty bold and I think her personality is going to come through a lot more in the second book. In this one, she’s still very much getting over trauma and a close death and it does weigh on her.
Let’s talk about the world. It’s very traditional YA Fantasy, but I’m not complaining. It also feels very reminiscent of ACOTAR, but again, not complaining. It’s pretty and it comes to life in your mind, but it didn’t feel like anything new.
Regardless of it all, I loved this book. I’ve been mood reading because I needed to make reading fun again, and this book is just so much fun. I’m kind of hoping it takes a NA twist, like ACOTAR, but honestly, I’ll be fine if it doesn’t. It’s just a fun read that incorporates so many elements that I love in fantasy reads. There’s even almost a *one bed* scene in this book, and so many other cute moments between Rhys and Amalia. Rhys’ brother is probably my favorite character, besides Rhys. Really the whole cast of characters is great, and I cannot wait to see what happens next. The reveals that happen at the end of the book are like damn, and things are about to get some much more complicated and I need it to be August 28, now!
If you’re looking for a quick, enjoyable, turn your brain off and just read, fantasy read, then you should definitely check this out!